KAGAI: The enduring national spirit of harambee - Daily Nation

The enduring national spirit of harambee

Tuesday February 13 2018


Kenya was built on the spirit of harambee emblazoned on our coat of arms, and, which is the foundation of the community.

We are implored to “Pull together” to build schools, and send students to university, and tie us all in a merry-go-round of money. 

Of course, it’s not just the money, everyone benefits from the ties; peace comes with unity. Growth comes with coercion, it’s who we are, and it works!

However, harambee is at odds with my drive for individual advancement.

It’s a ‘dog-eat-dog world’ out there. 

Facebook, Twitter, every other digital platform screams at me in megapixels and gigabytes to do better, work harder, and live the dream!  Win, win, win!


And then I see him, or her, the winner of a lottery!

Smiling toothily, holding a massive dummy cheque proclaiming hundreds of thousands or even millions of shillings. 

“Why not me?” I ask, and then I remember the old tale:

“John looks up at the heavens and prays, ‘Lord, let me win the lottery’.

He prays every day for years. He works hard, and every day he prays.

One day in frustration he shouts, ‘Lord! don’t you hear me, why don’t you let me win the lottery?”

The heavens open up and God says: “John!  I hear you, but you have to buy a ticket first!”.

I may personally never have won the millions of shillings at stake in some lotteries, or a pick-up, or a plot of land, but I have also won.


A thousand here, a few hundred there, occasional small wins on scratch cards that have left me believing in the big win, the jackpot some day! However, the real jackpot is the 25 per cent of the proceeds from lotteries that go to charities as mandated by the Betting Control and Licensing Board regulations.

Buying a ticket and waiting to see if I am the winner is exhilarating! It’s a rush, an adrenaline pumping high. 

However, knowing that some small child has a new school, a girl has access to a health clinic, and a village has clean water is the real winner.

We all have passed by a yellow booth selling dreams, scratch cards, and tickets. 

Kenya Charity Sweepstake was founded in 1965, and has been running lotteries ever since.


Yes, John may have bought his ticket, and won his jackpot, but more than Sh760 million has also been donated to 4,600 worthy causes as well.  Now, that’s a win for everyone.

Worldwide, lotteries fund charities and foundations are such a transparent funding source that even Nelson Mandela was a goodwill ambassador for the Dutch charity, Novamedia, whose motto is: “Making good citizenship fun.”

Novamedia has donated $9.8 billion to thousands of charities and projects all over the world, and is third worldwide in charity contributions behind the Bill and Melinda Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. 

Schools, charities, foundations all win, and so do sports.


Olympics teams, and stadiums are funded by lotteries. Many Olympic Games would not have been possible without the funds raised by lottery; from Russia (1980) to London (2012), to Montreal (1976) stadiums and infrastructure.  

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are only two years away. Lottery funded teams and individuals are training for victory. 

The British pumped millions of pounds of lottery money into their Olympic team to second place in Rio 2016. 

Australia, on the other hand, had its worst medal haul in 24 years coming 10th, and has since set up a National Sports Lottery to raise funds for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Whether it’s world class athletes winning gold, or children running around the track at a newly refurbished school, when it comes to lottery funding everyone wins.

“You’ve got to be in it to win it,” as the old saying goes. To grab your chance at the jackpot, please buy a ticket!


Mr Kagai is an online media enthusiast. [email protected] @thekagai_jnr